Volunteering with beneficiary organisations such as charities and social enterprises makes a real impact in our society. We as humans are hardwired to help. As well as the benefits to our shared community, using your time to help valuable causes can be incredibly rewarding and creates a sense of purpose (read more about helper’s high here). This can all be accomplished through taking part in company volunteering, a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly popular. It is estimated that 11 million UK employees are offered an opportunity to volunteer during work hours. Tapping into this resource can really make a difference!
Traditionally, volunteering is seen as an opportunity to get together and give non-skilled help to charities. Whether it is helping to organise an event, planting trees or assisting in basic operational matters, these ‘extra hands’ are very much appreciated by many charitable organisations. However, not all beneficiary organisations need non-skilled help and this can sometimes even be a hindrance. For example, the time taken up by training and briefing a volunteer for one or two day’s work may come at a greater cost for the charity than the benefits of the work itself.
Today, the impact of the pandemic has led to a restructuring in the third sector, with charities learning new methods of working and helping communities. This has led to a high demand for skilled volunteer work. Harnessing professional skills to benefit social value organisations does not only save money for charitable organisations, but can lift them to a new level. Although a fun day out painting walls with your team might seem tempting, the impact of professionals giving their skills can be far more beneficial. And a professional painter would do a better job at painting anyway!
Company volunteering can be a fantastically impactful activity to invest in, so it is important to set clear strategies and processes to manage these activities effectively. However, matching the needs of charities and social enterprises with the individual skills and schedules of company employees can be tricky. Here at whatimpact.com, we have created two different methods for managing company volunteering.
Companies on our platform can create public skills-based volunteering offers for charities and social enterprises to apply for. These volunteering ‘bundles’ align with the company’s CSR strategy. They might have either location, industry and/or cause related criteria. Applicants (charities and social enterprises) can apply directly to each presented opportunity and the company profile administrator will not only match with the most suitable organisation, but can then coordinate the actual activity internally.
Another way of volunteering is so called ‘self-volunteering’. All beneficiary organisations on whatimpact have comprehensive profiles which automatically integrate information from the Charity Commission and Companies House. These profiles specify the charity’s impact goals, beneficiaries, activities – and what specific volunteering they need. All company volunteers can browse the site to find a perfect match for them and contact the charity directly using the contact details specified on the charity’s whatimpact profile.
All company volunteers, including those volunteering through ‘official’ company offers and those self-volunteering, can find detailed information on their company volunteering scheme on whatimpact’s Volunteering HUB, where they can also register their volunteering hours, feedback and even photo/video material for the company’s internal use.
Here are five steps for any company volunteer to decide what is the best way of volunteering for them.
1) Define how you wish to use your volunteering hours
- Would you prefer to use your professional skills, fundraise or participate in non-skilled activities?
- Would you rather do your volunteering as a full day(s) or would you like to commit to a longer time period, such as helping a longer-term project or contributing as and when needed by the beneficiary organisation?
- Would you like to volunteer solo or be part of a team?
2) Decide whether to be part of a company skills-project or to self-volunteer
- Do you wish to offer your skills through official company volunteering offers, where charities apply for the resources? If so, speak with your whatimpact company admin and discuss what skills-project you would like to participate in or if you and/your colleagues would like to specify a project to take on.
- If you would rather self-volunteer, searching for opportunities on whatimpact is the best way to go further. If you need any advice as a whatimpact Volunteering HUB member, you can use our live chat bot service to ask questions.
3) Communicate with the charity or social enterprise
- Rarely can volunteering happen without pre-communication with the charity or social enterprise. Especially when offering skills-based volunteering, it is important to either email and/or call to have a detailed conversation with the beneficiary organisation about the timeframes, expectations and other arrangements.
- Be prepared that the beneficiary organisations might wish to see your CV, do some due diligence on you (and your team) and wish to know more about your experience in similar deliverables. It is as important for the charity to make sure your skills match their needs as it is for you to know that your skills are beneficial and needed.
- One of the key things is for you and the beneficiary organisation to be clear on the level of support they need: are you giving advice on a strategic level, are you helping them to plan operations and workshopping (e.g. marketing plan, development plan) or are you giving help in implementation (e.g. delivering renovation work, implementing a social media campaign, doing graphic design or coding work)?
4) Diligent and compassionate delivery
- Whether you are a volunteer or a team of volunteers, it is important to keep promises on the timeframe and deliverables when committing to a task regardless of busy times at work or in personal lives. Charities and social enterprises have to be able to rely on what has been agreed.
- Be active in communicating with the charity/ social enterprise. Let the organisation know if you have ideas that you think may be beneficial for them and if you would like to involve more people from your organisation to help. Continuous collaboration can develop into very impactful partnerships. When you have built up the initial relationship with the organisation, your company might be interested in continuing the partnership long term by giving grants, fundraising or giving product and service donations.
5) Report back to your company
- Your company will get a comprehensive social impact report from any charity or social enterprise your organisation supported with more than £5,000 worth of volunteering or other resources.
- When your company signs up to the whatimpact Volunteering HUB, each volunteer can easily register their volunteering hours and give testimonials simply by logging into the company profile on whatimpact.com. By registering your volunteering, the impact your company has made can be analysed and reported on both internally and externally.
- You can be a gamechanger in your organisation by inviting your colleagues to volunteer with you or creating official company skills-based volunteering packages. Research shows that peer to peer recommendation is the most powerful motivator to connect with social value organisations and to volunteer/donate. Your advocacy really matters!
P.S. If your company is not already listed on whatimpact.com, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a demo.